[War and Peace, Book 10]: A Review

Guys. I finally finished book 10!! This feels like a really big deal to me.

First, this is the longest of the books within the novel. And second, it covers about 15% of the book from just after 50% to almost 70%. That was such a hard stretch for me! When I hit the half way mark, I was so excited! And then the story just seemed to drag until 60%. Between moving cross country and trying to settle in, it took me longer than normal to get through the second half of this book. I honestly barely remember what happens at the start of it.

I continue to enjoy reading the chapters on my kindle. It makes it a lot easier to read and usually I like seeing my progress displayed.

Suddenly, I only have about a quarter to go. My momentum is at an all time high! Plus, the story is getting really good again.


Book 10 covers several important events on the front fighting against Napoleon including the battle of Borodino which is a turning point in the war favoring the Russians. We also spend a lot of time at Bald Hills with Prince Andrew’s family. First, he returns home before returning to his regiment and then writes to warn his father to leave because the French are marching on Moscow. Prince Bolkonski does not leave his home until it is almost too late. In fact, on the day they are set to depart, he suffers an intense stroke that leads to his death. His daughter, Mary, is much affected by his death and almost does not get to Moscow ahead of the French troops. But she is saved by Nicholas Rostov and a connection is formed between the two. The book ends with Pierre traveling to the front on the eve of battle and a detailed description of the battle’s events from Napoleon’s perspective, to Prince Andrew’s injury, to Pierre’s thoughts as he looks on.

This book had a lot of philosophizing from Tolstoy. At first, it was difficult for me to get through the chapters where nothing happened but he talked about his opinions on the war, the Russian troops, and Napoleon. I was just reading the words to get through them. But I actually grew intrigued by his hypothesizing. Most especially, I enjoyed his thoughts on writing history, war, and the importance of life. He talks quite eloquently about the flaws in writing history. Man gives himself (or another man) too much credit in changing history. Usually, events unfold as they are destined to, not because Napoleon had a cold.

A few favorite quotes:

“To question of what causes historic events another answer presents itself, namely, that the course of human events is predetermined from on high–depends on the coincidence of the wills of all who take part in the events, and that a Napoleon’s influence on the course of these events is purely external and fictitious.”

War and Peace, book 10

“Compassion, love of our brothers, for those who love us and for those who hate us, love of our enemies; yes, that love which God preached on earth and which Princess Mary taught me and I did not understand–that is what made me sorry to part with life, that is what remained for me had I lived.”

War and Peace, book 10

Tolstoy also makes his opinions about war known through the conversations between characters. The evening talk between Pierre and Prince Andrew is especially compelling. They talk about the ways to win battles and ultimately wars. And Andrew makes several claims that shape the way I viewed the battles that followed.

“And yet they say that war is like a game of chess?”

War and Peace, book 10

“Success never depends, and never will depend, on position, or equipment, or even on numbers, and least of all on position… But on what then? …. On the feeling that is in me and in him… and in each soldier.”

War and Peace, book 10

“War is not courtesy but the most horrible thing in life; and we ought to understand that and not play at war.

War and Peace, book 10

It’s hard to pick a favorite character from this book. I really enjoyed Mary’s journey in this book. Her freedom from her oppressive father but also her reconciliation with him. I enjoyed Nicholas Rostov’s added maturity and surprising encounters with Mary. Hoping to see more of them together in the last books of the novel. I enjoyed seeing Pierre show sudden patriotism and go to “watch” the battle of Borodino. That made me laugh! And I really enjoyed seeing more of Prince Andrew and his epiphany late in the book. I so long for him and Natasha to be reconciled at some point!

Themes I am enjoying/pondering:

  • What is the purpose of war? How can one find purpose in a battle to fight to live? How does God play a role in the outcomes of wars and in history? So many interesting ideas about these questions in this chapter.
  • Why is honor so important? How does it affect our actions? The generals both act in ways that seem questionable. But the battle goes on far longer than necessary. And the soldiers continue to die for the honor of their country.
  • How is history written? How can we find truth in history written by imperfect people?

Things that are tricky and/or confusing:

  • Russian geography. I have found some maps online and I look at them occasionally but it still is hard to keep all the names and places straight.
  • Customs of war. Some if it doesn’t make sense to me. Why offer or accept a battle that will just cause men to die? Why don’t the superior officers fight? Why can Pierre watch? All things I am still wondering.

I think I really started to appreciate what Tolstoy is doing in this novel. He is not just offering a history lesson or an exciting plot. He is creating a story surrounded by deep themes of war, love, history, and peace. He is giving us a story of such intense emotion and overwhelming grandeur that you have to appreciate his skill.

Looking forward to what the final books have in store and hoping for more happy endings than sad ones.

11 thoughts on “[War and Peace, Book 10]: A Review

  1. I’m a few years late on replying, but I really enjoyed your summary. It is just what I was thinking as I was reading.

    “…was just reading the words to get through them. But I actually grew intrigued by his hypothesizing.” Yep. That’s how I felt.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: September Wrap-Up and October TBR – greenish bookshelf

  3. Well done – you’re nearly there. This is one of those books that I do and don’t want to read – in equal measure! Alongside Les Miserables! I will read both of them eventually though.
    Look forward to your thoughts.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There is light at the end of the tunnel! I’m pretty sure you have been reading this as long as I’ve been blogging lol I haven’t been able to read the reviews as it is something I want to try and tackle some day, but I really admire your persistence with W&P!!! Can’t wait to celebrate when you are finished lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, finally! Haha yeah I have been working on it all year. My goal is to finish before the end of 2016 and that seems very doable! Hope you find the right moment to read it one day! I already feel quite proud of getting this far 🙂 And YES a big celebration is in order when I’m done! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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